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WDS 3.0 Beta Engine Preview

by Brandon on May 2nd, 2006

Some news sites are posting a link to the WDS 3.0 Beta Engine Preview that’s up on the Microsoft Download Center as of today.  A few things about this release:

  • This release is an engine preview and has no UI.
  • Most WDS users, even those that love installing Betas, should not install this release (but rather wait for the next beta which will have UI).
  • This release is for developers targetting the WDS 3.0 indexer on XP/2003/Vista, or beta testers of applications that use the WDS 3.0 Indexer – like Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2.
  • Some of the UI can actually be turned on by creating a registry key in “HKLM\Microsoft\Software\Windows Desktop Search\DS” called “ShowStartSearchBand” and setting it to 1.  You can then click “Search” on the start menu and see the familiar WDS UI.  However, lots of things are broken and this version of the UI is almost entirely untested and unsupported. (thus why it’s disabled by default).


So what’s different in WDS 3.0 from the current WDS 2.x releases?

WDS 3.0 represents a massive undertaking to turn WDS into a platform component to power the Windows Shell, Office, and any third-party applications that want indexed search functionality.  Any of you that have run beta versions of Windows Vista have already used the WDS 3.0 indexer.  Just like so many other Windows Vista platform technologies (like Windows Presentation Framework, .NET 2.0, etc), this represents the downlevel redistributable for users that haven’t upgraded to Vista but want to run applications that are built upon the technology included in Windows Vista.

Just like in Vista, this version of the WDS indexer runs as a Windows Service, and not a user-mode application.  This means that your system only needs one index regardless of how many users you have.  Data and search results from the system index is only accessible to users who have permissions to access that data directly.  So even though there is only one index, each user will only see items belonging to them or that are shared.  This also means that the WDS 3.0 indexer can index even while no users are logged on. 

Applications such as Microsoft Office (or any other third-party application) can use the WDS index to store data and perform searches, thus eliminating the need for them to store seperate indexes or implement custom search functionality, removing redundancy and providing a more consistent and unified experience for the end user.

However, as I said above, this release represents a very early state of the WDS 3.0 package, and is meant only as a preview of the indexing engine and not of the WDS 3.0 user experience.  Unless you have a specific need for the WDS 3.0 engine, you should continue to use the latest official release of WDS (version 2.6.5) for now.

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  1. Hi

    Any links to the API documentation for the WDS 3.0 engine? I wanted to try a couple of things with the Vista Feb CTP but couldn’t find any API documentation in the Feb Windows SDK on the WDS indexing engine.


  2. I believe the API documentation lives in the Vista Platform SDK. I think there should be an updated one soon for Vista beta 2.

    I’ll post about that when I see it go out.

  3. Hi. Is WDS3 what powers the instant search/word wheel stuff as used by IE7’s RSS view?


  4. Yep I would imagine the API documentation should exist in the Vista Platform SDK, called the Windows SDK these days but I couldn’t find any info after downloading the matching Feb version of the SDK that matches the Vista Feb CTP release.

    I posted this same question on the MSDN Forum – ‘Search, Organize and Visualize in Windows Vista’ just over a month ago and never received any replies from MS to the question.

    So hopefully the API documentation will make it into the Beta2 SDK release.


  5. Janson permalink

    Hi Brandon,
    This is good news. I’m watching this closely, and some of the advances you mention really do sound like this will be sutiatble for deploying in a Terminall Server environnment. (One index per computer sounds cool, rather than an index per user). Is WDS 3.0 going to support X64? Obviously in Vista it will but what about Windows Server 2003 x64 and Win XP X64? I run XP X64 currenlty at work, and miss my desktop search! :o)

    I really do see desktop search as a killer app, and its something I’m itching to give my users. Any insight as to when we might expect a fuller 3.0 beat release would be useful info. as well!

    Thanks as always,


  6. Ian Thomas permalink

    I assume this will be a component of the WinFS Beta 2 release, due about now.

    What I would like to know about the WDS3.0 API is whether there’s any explicit support for indexing of Alternate Data Streams, which as far as I can work out has only been possible until now by writing a special iFilter for the file types that have metadata stored in this fashion.
    Since a key tenet of the WinFS data model is the use of metadata (that initially, out of the box, fits the well-defined schemas), and a number of organizations have moved beyond the confinement of propertypages for metadata, it would be nice to have some standardized tools to use the WDS on current platforms (XP, 2000, 2003) for ADS metadata search.

    Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server, and IE already make use of the Alternate Data Stream for download security (Attachment Execution Service) and for graphics images.

    As I understand it, the use of WinFS over XP SP2 or in Vista (when a user decides to ‘convert’ an NTFS volume) will “promote” the ADS to Items – and I assume there will be some standard way that this is handled.

    Where can I find out about this standard way of handling ADS to Items promotion?

    It would be lovely to have some guidance on this. And it may be possible for Microsoft to gently shove those of us relying on our own metadata implementations for information search in the current Windows NTFS file system, towards a less traumatic migration path to the WinFS metadata model. I think you in the WDS team could do that with some code samples, some extensions to the WDS API, and some words of wisdom in an article or whitepaper.

  7. Honestly I don’t follow any of the WinFS plans, so I don’t really have any details to give you about that technology.

  8. Marcus permalink

    Hello Brandon,

    I am looking forward for the next WDS 3 version. Do you have any idea when it will be available?


  9. Oren Kramer permalink


    I have a problem with Windows desktop search. I downloaded and install Windows Desktop Search from Microsoft web site and everything works 100%. I have office 2003 on my Desktop. On my Laptop computer i can’t get it installed. I have Outlook 2007 beta and rest of office applications are 2003 (When installing the office 2007 beta i chose only outlook).

    Now when i’m trying to install i get “You already have the latest version of Windows desktop search” but i can’t see the search bar to search my PC. As far as i see it adds search box to outlook that searches outlook only.

    How can i install/tweak it to have the nice “Search Desktop” box on bottom tray?

    Many Thanks!


  10. Josh permalink

    It’s unfortunate that there is not some information as to when WDS 3.0 will be available; I am trying to decide if I should wait out for a UI or uninstall and go back to Google Desktop. If it was impending that would be good for the community to know.

    I installed as it seems to be required for using Office 2007 beta 2; and it seemed ridiculous to also install Google Desktop. However, the lack of UI is reducing my productivity… I realize it’s a beta and intended for testing but it’s been some months and some transparency into your roadmap even if it shift would be of use.

  11. Josh –

    Keep an eye on my blog over the next few days.

  12. Marcus permalink

    Hi Brandon,

    Is the WDS 3 be realeased this week?

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